Choosing Your Winter Tires

I don't know that I've ever written a post on choosing winter tires, but folks who live where the winters look like this...

...you need to make a good choice.

Now, I've always had winters and I rotate every change of season (winter-summer), it's also a good time to get your oil change and any other basic maintenance done.  In the long run this type of maintenance can save you big bucks.  We'll be losing the car for the Escape on Saturday, and so we need to address the tires right away.

Here are Jordan and my top considerations when choosing a good winter tire:
  • Weather Appropriateness.
    • When searching online or in a store you need to take care to LOOK at the tire - not just listen to the salesman trying to tell you what's best.  Look for The Snowflake (point one below is the snowflake).  This tells you that the tire has been rated for cold/snow/ice.
  • Size of Tire 
    • you can find the size requirements in your owners manual or the internet
      • 195 is the width of the tire in millimeters. 
      • 60 is the “aspect ratio.” It’s the percentage ratio of the height of the sidewall to the width.
      • R means the tire has radial construction. 
      • 15 represents the wheel diameter in inches. 

  • Moisture Separation (directionality of wicking)
    • This speaks to how efficiently moisture is wicked away from the tire allowing posting contact with rubber to road.  The better the tire is at wicking the moisture, the more tracking you will maintain.
  • Siping is a process of cutting thin slits across a rubber surface to improve traction in wet or icy conditions. On roads covered with snow, ice, mud, and water, sipes usually increase traction.  The rubber tire has greater flexibility because of the slits.
This is how Jordan explained it to me.

Pick something up....go ahead....I'll wait.

Okay, So lets say you picked up a can - when your fingers compressed around the object the grooves/wrinkles that make up your finger print compressed/flexed around the object making it easier to grip.  Make Sense? Here's a fancy diagram to help:

  • Texture of Rubber
    • Softer rubber is better in the winter because it molds itself to the ice and snow, thus providing better traction (this also helps the Sipes mentioned above).
    • Winter rated tires have a more flexible compound (are softer) which hander the lower tempatures better than an all season or summer tire does.  

So there you have it - they key elements (as Jordan and I see it) to selecting your tires.  

So, what tires are Jordan and I going to buy for the new 2011 Ford Escape?  We chose the Michelin-Latitude® X-Ice® Xi2. The base price of these at Costco is $200 installed.  What are we going to pay...$177 - installed.

Please know that you can negotiate tires like you negotiate for a new vehicle.  You don't have to pay the MSRP...we sure won't.

1 comment:

  1. Good choice! And properly rotated tires will last for years!


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